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Cowboys can’t sign Robinson until he hits open market

Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 17: Wide receiver Laurent Robinson #81 of the Dallas Cowboys grabs a midfield pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 17, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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With free agency less than three weeks away and Cowboys fans nervous about bringing back receiver Laurent Robinson, there’s a reason to be even more nervous.

As Todd Archer of points out, because Robinson signed a one-year deal under the minimum salary benefit that entailed a significantly lower cap number, he can’t sign a new deal with the Cowboys before the free-agent market opens.

This means that Robinson is required to become a free agent. And it creates an unusual chess match for the Cowboys. If they tip their hand about Robinson’s value, his agent can then shop those numbers to other teams.

Indeed, even if there’s a verbal deal in place before 4:00 p.m. on March 13, Robinson can walk away and sign with another team. So the Cowboys will be careful.

“The conversation with [Robinson’s agent] goes more like, ‘What are you thinking and then we’ll think about it,’” executive vice president Stephen Jones said, per Archer.

Of course, the Cowboys could lock Robinson up via application of the franchise tag. But no matter how badly the team wants to keep him, $9.4 million would be way too much based on one good season for a guy who previously had been a career journeyman.

So look for Robinson to hit the market. And possibly to hit the road.